25/01/2017 Newsnight


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The secretary of homeland security, working with myself and my staff,


will begin immediate construction of a border wall.


Donald Trump paves the way to drastically reduce America's


involvement in the United Nations, as he signs off on his giant


What signals is the President sending out about fortress America?


I'll ask the former Mexican ambassador to the US.


Also tonight, Britain promised Hong Kong it would help


preserve its political freedoms in law.


We fear the midnight knock at our door.


We are no longer even safe in our own beds.


We may be in Hong Kong, we may have broken no Hong


Kong law, but we can still be made to disappear from Hong Kong soil.


Nearly 20 years on from the handover to China,


democracy looks increasingly fragile.


Have we let down the people of that former territory?


We speak to Hong Kong's last Governor, Chris Patten.


It puzzles me that you think yourself qualified to attack me,


given that I have 30 years experience in the archives


and my books have been published by some of the greatest publishing


A new film - Denial - tells us how Holocaust denier


David Irvine tried to sue a historian in the High Court.


I ask the scriptwriter David Hare about lies and libel


Shortly after 2:30am, President Trump alerted the world


that it was a big day for national security and that he was


The wall - one of the most memorable pledges of his campaign trail -


will be constructed along the border with Mexico, aimed at fulfilling his


pledge to crack down on both illegal immigration and the flow


The efficiency - possibility even - of a 2,000-mile barrier has raised


eyebrows and is hotly debated, even within Trump's own cabinet.


His Homeland Security advisor - retired General John Kelly -


said it could only be effective to the extent it was backed up


by far more sweeping measures, including more manpower and good


relations with those south of the border.


It'll cost up to ?20 billion - money Trump insists will be


How unique is this attempt at a fortress?


Donald Trump continues to lay the foundation stones of his presidency,


signing executive orders on issues like rolling back Obamacare, a


freeze on government hiring and withdrawing from trade deals. Today


he signed an order to deliver perhaps his most famous campaign


pledge. We will build a great wall along the southern border. And


Mexico will pay for the wall. 100%. For those who thought this was


merely a clap line for the Trump stump, today President Trump


confirmed he was totally serious. Is secretary of homeland security,


working with myself and my staff, will begin immediate construction of


a border wall. APPLAUSE


The United States of America gets back control of its borders, gets


back its borders. Can we go ahead? But, as previous presidents have


found, it is one thing to sign and seal and another to deliver. On his


second full day in office, President Obama ordered the closing of


Guantanamo Bay. But it stubbornly outlasted even his second term in


office. His plans were locked up by an uncooperative Congress. So might


Donald Trump's wall meet similar obstacles? Its obstacle is literary,


build a wall. There are a lot of nuts and bolts in the process. First


of all, the money has to be appropriated, it has to go to


Congress, and Verdi is the question of what the physical wall looks


like. If some of it fencing, and is some of it a virtual wall? Today was


basically a message that they are serious about doing something wall


related. But there are of course already extensive physical barriers


on the US- Mexican border but they have been placed where people might


try to cross. Previous administrations have seen little


point in adding to extensively to the natural border provided by an


inhabitable desert. Most undocumented immigrants come in


through other means, student visas or work visas or tourist and they


overstay. This isn't an issue where vast numbers of people are


physically crossing the border in an undocumented sense. There are some,


of course, but the majority come to the US for other means and the wall


does not prevent that. And then there is the second part of the


promise, the funding. Remember I said, Mexico is paying. But how?


That was what Mr Trump was asked in his first sit down interview as


president. We will be starting those negotiations with Mexico relatively


soon and we will be in a form reimbursed. They will pay us back?


100%. The American taxpayer will pay at first? We will be reimbursed at a


later date from whatever transaction we make. The Mexican president said


recently that Mexico will not pay and those against their dignity as a


country and as Mexicans. I think he has to say that. He has to say that.


And he may say that to Mr Trump's face when the president visits


Washington next week, that is if the Mexican president doesn't cancel the


visit altogether, as some unconfirmed reports have suggested.


So which stones will the president add to his policy edifice next?


After signing today's executive orders, the New York Times tonight


reports that two new orders are being prepared, limiting US


involvement in the UN and other international bodies. But Mr Trump


will know that politics is about creating alliances, persuading


people and, yes, doing deals, and even presidents sometimes struggle


to get what they want. So is the wall an obvious solution


that fails to address any of the real problems,


or is this the right starting point for a country acknowledging


its immigration problem? Joining me now, Arturo Sarukhan,


former Mexican Ambassador This was clearly no empty threat,


then. This is actually being built. Well, we don't know exactly what's


going to be built. If we take Donald Trump, President Trump at face


value, and I think we should after 18 months of campaign and these


first days of the administration, there may be some form of brick and


mortar wall that goes up, but again this is a decision that will do very


little to alter the reality either of how undocumented immigration is


coming into and staying in the US, or fundamentally alter some of the


underpinnings of US national security and how you can guarantee


that in the 21st century. Is your sense that President Nieto should


cancel his planned trip next week? I think it will be very hard for him


to come up next week, as was envisaged, in part because you still


don't have a US administration that has its cabinet members confirmed


and, given that Mexico has said it will put every single issue of the


bilateral agenda on the table, that means engaging with every single


agency at the department of Washington, DC, it's going to be


hard to come and discuss a full agenda when you don't have the


counterparts across the table because there are still to be


confirmed by the sudden Sennett. But, because of this decision today,


which could be construed by many ambush, while high-level Mexican


officials are in town, starting those conversations leading up to


the visit, but if this is going to be the way policy is put forward in


terms of my way or the highway, it may make sense for the president to


postpone and come back at a better time. Can you have decent relations


now between Mexico and the US? Donald Trump said this evening that


Mexico's economic future is important to the US, and John Kelly,


his homeland adviser, said that the relations were imperative. Can those


two countries still have them? Absolutely, these two countries are


joined at the hip. They have to succeed together. Failure for one


means failure for the other. We have $1.4 billion of trade going across


the border every day and 35 million Mexican-Americans in the US. We have


1.2 million Americans living in Mexico and it is imperative that


both countries continue to build what we've been doing for the past


20 years. You say that as if that is the perfect solution, but what we


are hearing tonight is that Donald Trump has put Nafta on the agenda,


the agenda. If he pulls out of that, the Mexican economy is sunk, isn't


it? It's not sunk, but it will be dramatically impacted, but so will


the US economy. There are 6 million US jobs depending directly on trade


with Mexico, so if you are a president that has run on an agenda


of bringing back jobs to America, if you destroy Nafta, you destroy 6


million US jobs in a brushstroke. So, when Donald Trump says that


Mexico will reimburse him for the building of this wall, he is 100%


certain, he said this evening, is there truth in that? Would Mexico


pay money or, I don't know, continued membership of the US in


Nafta? Is there a deal to be done whereby you do pay for the wall? I


don't think that is on the table. I think Mexico and the US have done


and can continue to do great things together, but one thing I don't


think they are going to do is build a wall. There are of course measures


the president could take on remittances, tariffs and trade, but


I don't think he will see Mexican monies from the Mexican Treasury


coming across the border to pay for the wall. Thank you for joining us.


Joining me now, Max Fisher, Analyst at the New York Times who's


breaking the story tonight about the moves Trump is making


to minimize the US role in the United Nations.


This is something that would affect us all, of course. Just explain what


you are hearing. There two executive orders that are in draft form that


are circulating the White House now, and they are currently planning to


sign them in the end of the week. The first would review a huge subset


of multilateral treaties that the United States is currently engaged


in. It's not clear which treaties they have in mind, but it sure looks


like it opens up planet and environmental agreements currently


in force to be abrogated. The second and in some ways bigger one is


reviewing funding for the United Nations, and this draft executive


order, if signed, would do two things. It would terminate any US


funding for any UN agency that needs a subset of conditions, any support


for abortion programmes, there are a few rules that are very vague,


something about it including help for countries that opposed the


United States, and they would cut funding, not sure what that means.


Once they have done that, the order would mandate a 40% cut in all US


funding towards the United Nations, any UN agency or any other


international organisations, which would amount to billions of dollars.


It's not clear where that cut would come from, but the order singled out


peacekeeping, which is very concerning because the US holds a


huge amount of international peacekeeping, and a few other items.


Reading between the lines, because your report suggests a lot of it


would be auditing and reducing, terminating funding for any


organisation controlled or influenced by any state which


sponsors terrorism, a lot of this would sound quite sensible at first


glance, cutting down on waste to a bloated organisation. You think it's


more than that? And you have to remember that a really big amount of


US funding to UN doesn't go to stay closed or red pens out towards


peacekeeping operations. The US funds about 27% of the UN's


peacekeeping operations, a lot of aid to refugees. These programmes


are already stretched thin. There are currently peacekeeping


operations in 16 countries. If the US cuts almost half its funding for


those, the operations won't go away, but it has pretty significant


ramifications for the people living in those countries, Mali, Cyprus,


Lebanon, places which are not really a great position to have a bunch of


UN leave suddenly because the United States no longer wants to be part of


the United Nations as fully. Do we know if the Paris climate change


deal is in jeopardy, and do we know which parts of the organisations


would specifically be hit by the cut? On the treaties, the executive


order is very short, about a page and a half, but the subset of


multilateral treaties that it is targeting, which is anything


unrelated to extradition, directly related to trade or national


security, would be reviewed, and this commission they are setting up


would have to look at it and say, yes, we want to continue or not


continue. One of the biggest ones that would be in the cross hairs


would be the Paris climate agreement, which President Trump has


signalled a lot of scepticism of, and it's not unreasonable to suspect


he would use this as a mechanism to withdraw from it. The agencies, we


don't know. Technically, what this is setting up is a panel which will


recommend cuts, figuring out where we should cut, but it also makes


some suggestions for the one big one is peacekeeping. Another one of


these suggested cuts, oddly, if the international criminal court, which


is strange because the United States doesn't provide funding to that.


Thank you for joining us appreciate you.


Tomorrow, Theresa May heads to Washington,


the first foreign leader to hold meetings with the new US President.


The two could not be more different - in temperament,


in character, and possibly in their priorities too.


Our political editor Nick Watt is here.


First what you are hearing on this side of the Atlantic about those


alterations to the US - UN relationship now and funding. There


were audible gasps of breath in Whitehall and Parliament when the


report flashed up on the US website. One senior Tory said to me, oh my


God, it makes Putin looked like a pussycat. There is a feeling that


were these executive orders to be enacted they could severely


undermine the UN. My senior Tory said the timings of this report is


particularly unfortunate for Theresa May because as you say she flies to


the US in the morning to seek Donald Trump. The senior Tory said to me,


"It's a reality check, she needs to calling people who know what they


are doing. " There is a feeling Theresa May has planned this trip


very tightly. I've heard from sources close to Cabinet ministers


she hasn't really been consulting cabinet colleagues and some voices


have been wondering whether it is wise to rush over that quickly.


How is she preparing, handling the trip?


Theresa May hopes when she becomes the first world leader to meet


Donald Trump in the White House within a week of his inauguration


she will be laying the ground for a very constructive relationship. She


will be talking about renewing the special relationship for this new


age and as a sign of that constructive relationship she will


be handing Donald Trump a kick, sorry, a quake, an ancient Scottish


artefacts. There is on our screen. An ancient Scottish cup designed to


signal friendship. She hopes that will lead to a good friendship. Some


of the language she will dues when she is in the US will take on


renewed significance in light of that New York Times report. She will


essentially make a plea for multilateral organisations, when she


says the institutions upon which the world relies were so often conceived


or inspired by our two nations working together.


And she will talk about deepening defence cooperation through Nato.


These are perhaps brave words, because obviously Donald Trump told


Michael Gove in that interview recently that Nato was obsolete.


Although, to be fair to the president, did Nato was important to


him and appeared to be suggesting it is wrongly configured to tackle


terrorism. We thought on the eve of this meeting on Thursday between


this and likely pairing of Donald Trump and Theresa May we would find


them helpful words of advice for the Prime Minister. Here is our film.


It's absolutely vital to stress that Britain doesn't want to have to


choose between its very special relationship with the United States


and its very significant relationship with China. And in that


context, the most important and biggest threat to everyone's


prosperity is climate change, which cannot be resolved without


cooperation and in particular cooperation with China for its also,


I think, really important to point out that China understands something


which is very important about the economy and the energies and the


technologies of the future, which is that they are not based on oil and


gas, they are renewable, low-carbon, clean, green and efficient.


China understands that. The United States ought to be innovating and


competing on that front, not trying to turn the clock back.


America's greatness stems from its allies, no country in the history of


the world has had more allies or use them to better effect on Trump


tragically doesn't get that. The most important thing for Theresa May


to get across is to say that the allies really matter, not just


Britain, because Trump seems to have clocked that, but European allies.


These are countries that believe in American greatness and he can work


with them in a way you cannot work with someone like Vladimir Putin,


who doesn't believe in American greatness.


My advice would be to represent the best interests of Britain, make sure


the United Kingdom comes first in any negotiations that you're having.


He's a very nice guy. He understands the national interests very well. He


would never expect you to kowtow to the United States, and nor by the


way would anybody around him. I think that's the vibe I'm getting


out on the street here, too. Having said that, diplomacy is obviously


primary and very, very important in these situations. There will be a


lot of pressure to say things about what happened during the campaign


trail, especially on the back of last 'sprotest. I would still steer


clear from it, stick to policy and start forging a relationship of two


nations that can lead to the world again.


It's a very tricky situation. You're dealing with someone who is a bully


and who is very fragile underneath, because most bullies are. You need


to be as robust as you can, and not by the romance that he has already


proposed, which I think is the way to diminish you. And to find a way


to represent yourself as a leader of an important country in the world.


Two words, trade deal. That's all really she has to worry about. Right


now he needs to prove to his friends in Washington that he is capable of


cutting a deal with countries as well as tearing up trade deals. He


said he does in my multilateral deals, wants to do one-on-one. Along


comes Britain. We are leaving the EU at exactly the time you need the


deal politically as much as we need one economic clue. This is a window


of opportunity that might last forever. We don't know a lot how


long he will be president for or how long Republicans will control


Congress for, but for these two years, perhaps shorter, there is a


chance for Theresa May to walk away with the best possible price after


Brexit, a free-trade deal with the biggest and most successful economy


on earth. Be nice, be constructive, but don't


pander and try to get him to understand his importance in meeting


are these big global challenges and get him to the words Nato is good.


Some advice there. Before Theresa May heads off this


has been a big Brexit week. Tomorrow we will see the wording of the


Parliamentary builder makes sure the government complies with the Supreme


Court then make sure its parliament and not government that triggers


those Brexit negotiations. It is interesting. We will see how tightly


worded that Dell is and how easy or difficult it will be for MPs and


latterly peers to amend that bill. But the government has cleared its


Commons business next week and they are pretty confident it will


complete its common stage by February the 9th, when the House of


Commons rises for a mini recess and then it over to the House of Lords.


Interestingly we will get that bill after something of a U-turn from


Theresa May when she announced at Prime Minister's Questions earlier


today she would after all publish a white paper, setting out the


framework for her negotiations. But the government is saying we will


have to wait a little bit of time for that White paper because it is


separate from the bill. The bill is about triggering negotiations. The


White Paper is about the framework for the negotiations. Nick, thank


you. The Hong Kong Handover


will see its 20 year anniversary this year -


marking the moment in 1997 when the territory was returned


from British to Chinese rule. To address the huge fears that


Hong Kong's political and economic freedoms would be undermined


by Communist China, those liberties The so-called Joint Declaration


committed both countries to an understanding that it was


One Country, Two Systems. But how much has either country


stuck to its promise The Umbrella Protests two years ago


brought a new generation But no new steps


towards real democracy. Has Britain chosen to prioritize


trade over probity? We ask the last Governor


of Hong Kong, Chris Patten. There has been racing in Hong Kong


Jockey Club for almost as long Deng Xiaoping once promised that,


after the handover, horse racing would continue and dance parties


would go on. His promise was kept here,


but other promises made 20 years ago The fault lines that brought tens


of thousands onto the streets two There are now more radical


voices on both sides, and those fighting for the freedoms


that set Hong Kong apart from the rest of China feel


increasingly abandoned. Unfortunately, the rest


of the world, particularly Great Britain, would rather pretend


not to see what is going on, and I'm afraid that,


if they continue to ignore the steady erosion, then


by the time they wake up to the fact that One Country,


Two Systems exists only in name, One Country, Two Systems


is the deal agreed between For 50 years after 1997,


Hong Kong is guaranteed what the rest of China can't have -


free speech, free press and an independent justice system,


and a partially elected assembly. Now Hong Kong people


are to run Hong Kong. That is the promise,


and that is the unshakeable destiny. For many, that promise


now feels hollow. Kevin Lau thinks a free press


is threatened by intimidation of journalists and media owners


who are sympathetic to China or afraid to lose


advertising revenue. So he started an independent,


crowd-funded news site. Now is the time, because Hong Kong


media is facing such He was the editor of a newspaper


that looked into mainland business, including offshore holdings


by the Chinese leadership. In 2014, he was attacked


on the street by two He was hospitalised for five months


and struggles to walk today. The fact that an innocent journalist


was brutally attacked by violence is a threat to press freedom


in Hong Kong, because it sends chilling signals


to working journalists. Press freedom has been


nowhere in the past. I'm not sure whether it


will continue in the future. The threat to free speech


is made clear in the case They peddled gossipy publications


about the Beijing leadership. Then, in 2015, all five disappeared


- only to reappear in Chinese One, a British citizen, Lee Bo,


may have been kidnapped Another, Lam Wing-kei, was detained


as he crossed the border. TRANSLATION: I was visiting my


girlfriend in the mainland and I was stopped by two officials


at the border. They took me to a police van


where there were dozens Then I was taken to the police


station in Shenzhen, where I was held in the prisoners'


compound and interrogated. Mr Lam was released after eight


months, on the condition that he handed over a hard disk


containing information on their customers,


which he says he hasn't done. TRANSLATION: I believe there


are people who are watching me, My main worry is that they will


kidnap me and take me You have the abduction


of the four publishers, the exercise of extrajudicial powers


on Hong Kong soil, which makes us all wonder, should we fear


the midnight knock at our door? We are no longer even


safe in our own beds. We may be in Hong Kong,


we may have broken no Hong Kong law, but we can still be made


to disappear from Hong Kong soil. Anson Chan is one of Hong Kong's


most respected leaders. She was Chris Patten's number two


and held several of the most senior She accuses China of attacking


the One Country, Two Systems agreement and Britain of doing


nothing to protect it. You put your signature to the joint


declaration and you handed over 7 million people


to what is still a totalitarian state, on the basis


of those promises. Do you think the British government


simply isn't brave enough I think Great Britain feels


that its first and best interest lies in trading with China,


and they don't much care whether they trade


with China on any terms. A new generation has emerged


since the Umbrella Protest in 2014, caused by Beijing's decision to vet


the short list for the Students Joshua Wong, then just 17,


and Nathan Law, 20, were two Beijing never backed down,


but this seems to push more The students now lead


their own political party, campaigning here about treatment


by the police and pushing In 2017, I believe there will be


more demonstrations and protests, especially under the interference


of Beijing government. This just proves the failure


of One Country, Two Systems. A lot of people after the movement


feel frustrated and upset because there was no true democracy


in Hong Kong after the movement, so more or less the goal


of the movement failed. Maybe we lost a battle,


but we will win the war. In elections in September,


pro-democrats experienced Nathan Law was elected


to the legislative council, but pro-Beijing forces are trying


to use the court to This new generation of activists


is challenging Beijing on many fronts, building a pro-democracy


network across east Asia. But watch what happened when they


returned from a trip to Taiwan. A pro-Beijing mob attacked


Nathan as he arrived The Communist Party


is behind all these things. They tried to stigmatise


all the Democrats and then try to mobilise these patriotic mobs


to personally attack each of us. We messaged one of the leaders


of the protest on WeChat. When we told him we were from


the BBC, he ended the conversation. But we did find out


that he is the head of a tour guide union that works


with visitors from China. And the role of unions,


trade associations and executive boards in extending China's


influence in Hong Kong is crucial. Many people here have told us that,


from transport unions to school boards, the university councils,


pro-Beijing voices are It affects the way everyday


decisions are made in major The infrastructure and economic ties


that bind are growing stronger. This is the new bridge that


will span the Pearl River delta, And there are many in


Hong Kong who do support Holden Chow represents the biggest


party in the legislative council. I would say you can't simply bring


everything to Beijing. Under that One Country,


Two Systems we are running, we do need back-up from the central


government, as we have a lot of economic activities and close


ties with the mainland. There has always


been tension between pro-democrats and pro-Beijingers,


but is there now a third position? Yao Wei-ching and Baggio Leung


are separatists, arguing They were excluded from the chamber


for using offensive language. This was the response


from pro-Beijingers The separatists have only limited


support so far, but they think All those applications that I can


use in this phone has been hacked. They are taking us to a town where


they say most are from the mainland. They believe that high levels


of immigration are deliberate policy You can see that it is no


longer part of Hong Kong, This is something


like a city in China. I think that most of


the Hong Kongers don't want to see Support for independence is not


widely held, but it represents a radical shift in tone,


partly because the goals of the Umbrella Movement


have been frustrated. If the One Country, Two Systems


cannot protect Hong Kong people from the control, the next


step is to separate from China. In Happy Valley, they pride


themselves on being Tonight, over 100 million US


dollars will be bet, But those who fight to keep


Hong Kong free from Beijing's control feel increasingly


on their own. Earlier I spoke to the man you saw


in that film, Lord Patten, I asked him if he agreed


with his former number two there, Anson Chan, that the world,


and Britain in particular, were being wilfully blind,


ignoring the erosion of human rights I think the point that Anson


makes is a very good one. She's one of the most remarkable


people I've ever worked with, and I would be very loathe to ever


disagree with her. My worry is related to that,


which is I wonder what's happened to our sense of honour and our sense


of responsibility, particularly in Britain,


it's above all a British question. We signed the joint declaration


with China, it's a treaty at the UN, it's supposed to commit us


to standing up for Hong Kong's You don't get much sense of British


governments actually standing over those promises and obligations,


and I think that's a great pity, and it's all for derisory,


ludicrous reasons. The argument, which is I suspect


going to be tested quite a bit in the next few months,


the argument that the only way you can do trade with China


is by kowtowing to China on political issues is drivel,


it's complete nonsense. You once called it the unshakeable


destiny of Hong Kong people Does it still feel


unshakeable to you? Yes, because I think


at the end of the day, I think the values, the attributes


which make Hong Kong I think that Communism,


whatever that is, Leninism with capitalist characteristics,


is not a long runner. I think the rule of law,


I think freedom of speech, I think freedom of worship,


I think all the freedoms you associate with a plural society


are long-term winners - not just in everywhere else


in the world, but in Asia as well. So is Anson Chan going too far


when she says you put your signature to the joint declaration,


you hand over 7 million people to what is still


a totalitarian state, The British government isn't


being brave enough to stand up? I think the British government would


be well advised to prove her wrong, because I think it would be


dishonourable not to do so. I worry about now people


are prepared to sell our honour for alleged trade deals,


which never actually happen. I think that would be


calamitous, and what do we represent in the world,


if that's what happens? In what sense would the next


generation of leaders in Hong Kong, who will be, sooner or later,


democratically chosen, in what sense would they feel any


special relationship to the United Kingdom,


if that's how we behave? Look, I feel very strongly


that we let down the parents of this I think it would be a tragedy


if we let down these kids as well. I meant by the last ten


or 15 years of British responsibility in Hong Kong,


I think we should have done more We did a certain amount,


but I don't think we did enough and I think if Hong Kong had had


another five or ten years' experience of democracy it


would have been much more difficult for the Chinese authorities to have


rolled it back, as they have done. We're now almost 20 years


since the handover and we're still arguing about whether or not,


in effect, Beijing should decide who runs Hong Kong


or whether the people We asked the Chinese ambassador


to come on, but he declined. The British Foreign


Office told us that they believe that One Country,


Two Systems continues to be the best arrangement for Hong Kong's


long term stability and prosperity, "We hope and expect that


One Country, Two Systems will be respected and successful long


into the future." The Holocaust denier David Irving


rose to prominence as a historian who refused to believe


in the concentration camps of Auschwitz and the systemic


extermination of Jews In 1996, he brought a case


against Penguin Books and the American historian


Deborah Lipstadt - accusing her The case has now been made


into a major film - Denial - In a moment we will speak


to its scriptwriter David Hare, and ask what it tells us about lies,


libel and disinformation First, a clip of the film


showing Rachel Weisz, who plays Deborah Lipstadst,


the accused writer. Some people are saying


that the result of this trial On the contrary, I've been


defending it against someone Freedom of speech means you can


say whatever you want. What you can't do is lie and then


expect not to be accountable for it. Not all opinions are equal,


and some things happen, The Earth is round, the ice caps


are melting and Elvis is not alive. Just before coming on air


I spoke to David Hare. I asked him whether that clip was at


the crux of what the film was trying to say.


Well that was the reason that I wanted to write the film, really,


because there's a sort of view at the moment that


As if it's an argument to be able to say, "Well that's my opinion".


And so you say something and then somebody says something else


and obviously this has been encouraged by the Internet,


this idea that you can just assert things and it is a false kind


of democracy to say that everybody's opinions are equal.


Those opinions that are backed up by fact and provable fact


are superior to the opinions of those that are not


That's really what I wanted to write about.


That trial at the time pretty much killed Irving's reputation,


from what I remember, he was never taken seriously again.


But I wonder if you think, in this age, he would still thrive,


that we have become more accepting of untruth?


Personally, I don't think the Internet is


I think that at the time, he walked into a trap.


You know, it was his idea to bring the lawsuit.


It was always felt, people kept accidentally calling


Deborah Lipstadst the prosecution, but she wasn't the prosecution,


He chose to take it to court, and he did that thinking


that his deliberate mis-manipulation of the truth would not


be revealed in court, but by a rather wonderful process,


thanks to Anthony Julius, the solicitor, and Richard Rampton,


the brilliant Counsel, they actually proved not


just that he was lying but they also managed


This was in the 90s, in a pre-Twitter age.


I think it was Hugo Rifkind who wrote this week,


When we stop concentrating, this is when we understand the world.


If enough people behold a thing it becomes true."


Do you sense that is what we are entering now?


You know, I'm a little bit resistant to all this.


In other words, you know, people are saying that


Donald Trump is a liar, and clearly he is a liar.


But there have been a whole series of American presidents who have said


Nixon wasn't overly fond of the truth.


Reagan claimed to know nothing about Iran-Contra,


he claimed not to know America was financing terrorism


You know, lying in politics is not a new things.


The majority of presidents, let's say, have told a lie in office.


Is there a difference, though, if the media,


if broadcasters know at the time that something is a lie,


should they strive for balance or should they call it out as a lie?


I think they have to call it out as a lie.


Look, what was unusual about Irving was that he claimed


that the mistakes he had made in the book Hitler's War,


and historians working for the defence found 25 mistakes


of fact in the book, but they all tended one way.


In other words, and what Richard Rampton was able to do,


was to prove that there was a motivation for


You know, some historians got upset and said no book can survive


The answer of the defence was - no, no, no, all historians make


mistakes, but if all their mistakes head in one direction, and that


direction is the exoneration of Adolf Hitler for the death


of the Jews, then you have to say that they aren't mistakes,


And that's what was so brilliant about a trial.


In getting back to the film and the way that portrays the trial,


it's very much that passion versus, if you like, rationality.


American versus British, you have these rather buttoned up


British lawyers and the American academic, who wants to do it


with her heart and they want to do it with logic.


Was that pretty much how the trial itself was,


or is that something you wanted to bring into the script?


Deborah Lipstadst was forced not to give evidence.


Not only was she not allowed to give evidence by her own defence team,


but also the survivors of the camps were not allowed to give evidence.


I think I have a line where Richard Rampton says,


"What feels best, isn't what works best".


And so films about the difference between self-righteous


And would you take that into the political sphere now?


Clearly Hillary Clinton lost against Donald Trump because she has


We leave you with the work of the bad lip reading YouTube


channel, who watched the inauguration on some


Together we will build a bar in rural Connecticut,


and we will make it a bar with a nanny, and we will make it


a bar called Brown Lady, and we will make it a bar that has


# When you want to make a bad day a greater day


Good evening. More fog tonight, mostly on the hills, and ice will be


a real concern with freezing drizzle and snow on widely subzero surfaces.


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